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10 Oct 2016

Belarus, Russia settle oil and gas dispute

MINSK, 10 October (BelTA) - Belarus and Russia have resolved the problems with the energy supplies, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said on 10 October, BelTA has learned.

“Yesterday I received a government’s report on oil and gas disputes with Russia. I understand that the latest dispute is over and that we were able to sign a relevant document. All the problems, at least as of yesterday, were settled,” the head of state said.

Alexander Lukashenko remarked that he asked the specialists who took part in the negotiations to clarify the details of the agreement. “The main thing is to make sure that our yesterday’s agreements will help us avoid similar conflicts with Russia in the future,” the President said.

“Such disputes have no economic sense. More so, they are costly. It is inappropriate to have such relations with Russia,” the Belarusian leader stressed.

The head of state asked whether the Belarusian side loses anything as a result of the current agreements and what the long-term effect will be. “You say the effect is long-term, till 2019. But time will pass, and Belarusian economic operators will still be in unequal conditions (in comparison with Russians. – BelTA’s note),” the President noted.

In this context, Alexander Lukashenko emphasized that Belarus and Russia need to agree on equal conditions for economic operators in accordance with the letter and spirit of the Union State Treaty.

“The Protocol was signed on Friday. Under the Protocol, all oil and gas issues have been resolved. The Protocol pegs the prices to the Russian domestic prices,” Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Semashko said.

The protocol signed with the Russian side is a working document. Now the parties will need to adjust the legal framework in this area, the Deputy Prime Minister told reporters. “I am very grateful to my colleagues, particularly Arkady Dvorkovich, for their constructive approach. We had difficult, lengthy negotiations. This is a working protocol, which outlines the key guidelines for our further activities. Now we have to work on adjusting the intergovernmental agreements which we signed earlier,” he noted.

Vladimir Semashko, in particular, cited the Belarusian-Russian agreement on natural gas pricing of 25 November 2011. “This week we will draft amendments to this agreement and will send them to our colleagues. We need to get this done by 31 December,” he said.

Belarus and Russia will also need to prepare an intergovernmental agreement in view of the plans to create the single electricity market in the Eurasian Economic Union by 1 July 2019. “Under the working Protocol, we have committed to sign the agreement in the first quarter of next year. We must draft the text literally within 1 or 2 months, and then submit it for the domestic procedures,” Vladimir Semashko said.

He also recalled that the EEU is set to enforce the single hydrocarbons market by 1 January 2025.

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